Good question for debate today: Should school field trips utilize Muni to get to their destinations?
To be honest, there are some occasions when it is acceptable for a group of school kids to ride Muni, but there are other occasions when it is totally unacceptable.
- A proper occasion for school groups to ride the bus is during non-peak hours, on a non-trunk line (e.g. 3-Jackson, 2 Clement, 36-Teresita), and if possible, on a line that is not notorious for being crowded.
- An improper occasion is the total opposite of what I just mentioned, especially during rush hour service when people need to arrive to work on-time.
The reason why I am asking this question is because I was a victim of a horrific Muni ride involving a school field trip.
During morning rush service on the 47-Van Ness starting at O'Farrell, I was waiting for the next arriving bus to take me to the Hall of Justice for jury service. I noticed behind the stop shelter about 60 to 80 school children and a dozen parent escorts from Rosa Parks Elementary sitting around waiting for the bus.
When the bus arrived, I was waiting at the curb so I can be one of the first to board. But instead, one of the parent escorts brought about 30 school children and basically pushed me out of the way so they can board first. Since I could not board the front door, even trying to board through the back door was impossible because the bus was totally full. I then waited for the next 47 bus to arrive several minutes later, and was able to board and sit, but was crammed in the back with all the remaining children and their parents. It took several minutes to board everyone and I was so frustrated that I yelled out to the entire bus: "Can we please go now, I have jury service at the Hall of Justice today, and they don't like people being late." One of the adults yelled back: "We're getting off at Caltrain." I nearly yelled out "shit!" but gotta remember there's kids on the bus.
The bus finally left, but it made it a real headache with the kids screaming every time the bus driver hit the gas and brake, and the regular passengers trying to swim through the little kids so they can get off the bus and get to work. By the time the bus arrived at the HOJ, I arrived 20 minutes later than expected if the kids didn't ride the line. I couldn't even get my cup of coffee because it was so close to the time I needed to show-up and avoid the long wait through the security screening.
With all due respects, I think the SF Unified School District should get involved with this when there are large groups of kids going on a field trip. Maybe they can contract with Muni to offer charter bus service and give so many bus "credits" per school, and the families of the students can pay extra if they don't have enough "credits" to get a bus. Another option would be just renting a district school bus; those vehicles only runs during morning rush and in the late afternoon.
I remember back in the day when I was kid in the district and the parents would do all the driving. Those were the days!